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ICE Director: Stop Painting Immigration Agents as 'Racists or White Supremacists'

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Thomas D. Homan speaks during a press briefing at the White House on July 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON – The media has been vilifying police for carrying out deportation orders, ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said Tuesday, while attacking sanctuary cities for “releasing public safety threats back into the community.”

While speaking at the Heritage Foundation, Homan discussed the case of Nery Israel Estrada-Margos, an undocumented immigrant who allegedly beat his girlfriend to death two weeks after police in Sonoma County, Calif., released him following an initial arrest for an assault on the same woman. Prior to his release, Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed a detainer request against Estrada-Margos. Homan claimed on Tuesday that had his agency been given proper notice from law enforcement, Estrada-Margos would have been deported to Guatemala.

“Sanctuary cities are releasing public safety threats back into the community,” Homan said, arguing that even immigrant communities would rather not have these individuals living among them.

Statistics from the Cato Institute earlier this year showed that both documented and undocumented immigrants are incarcerated at rates lower than U.S.-born citizens. According to Cato, for the 18- to 54-year-old age range, U.S.-born citizens are incarcerated at a rate of 1.53 percent, while undocumented immigrants are recorded at 0.85 percent and documented immigrants at 0.47 percent.

Homan said that every morning he reads headlines and news stories painting ICE agents as “racists or white supremacists.” He said what the media fails to mention is that the deportations are directly tied to court orders from judges. The difference with this administration, he said, is that ICE has been ordered to carry out the law.

“They want to vilify the men and women for doing their job and executing a judge’s order issued from a bench. Shame on these folks,” Homan said. “The 20,000 men and women who work for ICE are American patriots.”

Politico reported in August that the Trump administration is deporting undocumented individuals at a slower pace than the Obama administration. According to ICE statistics from February to June, ICE removed about 16,900 people per month. The Obama administration was deporting people at a rate of about 20,000 people per month throughout 2016 and 34,000 people a month throughout 2012, the year that saw the highest deportation totals under Obama.

Homan said that he has been vilified for testifying before Congress that illegal immigrants should be looking over their shoulders, that they should be worried about deportation.

“If anyone in this room goes down the highway racing at 100 mph, are you worried that you may get stopped and get a ticket?” Homan asked. “If you lie on your taxes, are you worried that you may get an audit? People that knowingly, intentionally violate the laws of this country, enter this country illegally, which is a crime – that’s been lost in the last decade – when you commit a crime against this country, enter the country illegally, you should be worried. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

Homan read off a series of news stories he took issue with: Vermont-based advocate Migrant Justice is suing the federal government for allegedly targeting political activists. Another story detailed how ICE deported an 18-year U.S. resident in “immigration limbo” after fleeing a civil war in his home country of Sierra Leone. Homan also took issue with story published by The Intercept detailing how then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly has allegedly directed ICE to portray undocumented immigrants as criminals. Every one of the individuals listed in the stories, Homan said, was subject to a judge’s order on deportation. He added that if the U.S. continues to send the message that it’s okay to break the law, the U.S. will never solve its border issues.

“This president takes border security and public safety very seriously, and thank God for that,” Homan said, adding that ICE has made significant progress under this administration.